Hayahay In Boracay

*Hayahay is a Bisaya/Cebuano term for convenience or comfort.

As I have said on my previous posts, I travel spontaneously. One of the most spontaneous trips I had is my trip to Boracay last year. I had no plans of going to Boracay actually. I was on a 9-day mandatory leave at work and I was planning to pay a visit to my hometown–Masbate. I then browsed the net looking for the cheapest airfare; I compared the rates from different possible airports. Legazpi, Masbate, Roxas City, Iloilo and Aklan were among the closest airports as there is no direct flight to our island. Aklan was way cheaper amongst the five. So I booked for Aklan 3 days before my flight. Aklan is just 2-3-hour drive to Roxas City. From there I can take a boat for another 3-4 hours to my hometown–Jintotolo Island. Yes, I am an island boy!

During my flight I was contemplating on pursuing that side trip to Boracay. I did not make any hotel reservations nor did I make any itineraries. (Oh I suck at doing itineraries!)

The plane has landed the Kalibo International Airport at 5A.M. and I am still undecided. With just limited money I have on me and knowing that Boracay is a first class beach destination; thinking of my possible expenses might be a nightmare.

The stingy ego of me reacted violently suggesting that I should just go home because my lola(grandma) missed me so much. The adventurer ego of me wanted to give it a try for at least one night. I boarded the van with so much anxiety and doubts. I’m really undecided. I just want to go home.

While on the road, fear and uncertainty is consuming me. A lot of what ifs again have clouded my mind. It felt like my first time to travel alone going to somewhere unfamiliar and chills are creeping in. I was new to this thing called backpacking. Plus, knowing that you do not have a lot of money in your pocket is really risky. Three and a half hours I found myself lining up on the counter to pay my environmental fee then bought a ferry ticket. About 15 minutes, the tricycle drivers greeted us (fellow ferry riders) and was too aggressive by grabbing our bags to offer us a ride to our hotel. Yes, I have set my foot on Boracay island.

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I shared a tricycle with a young couple (I bet they’re boyfriend/girlfriend–who cares?!). The driver asked me where I am going. I was speechless. Froze for a while and then I blurted “Bring me to where they are going.”

Nope! I am not sharing a room with the couple. I don’t even know them.
It was a bit long drive from the port area to station 2, where the couple have their hotel booked. I have internet connection on my iPad so along the way, I was browsing for the cheapest hotel/inn. Thank heavens I have been reading Journeying James’ blog since I started backpacking he has been my virtual tour guide. Lucky me, one of his recommended resorts is in Station 2.

The resort was not easy to find. But with the very first thing I learned in backpacking which is to ask directions from the local, it was no sweat getting there. I have asked about five locals on my way to the resort. Around 10AM, when I entered the humble Friendz Resort lobby. A backpacker refuge in Boracay. (FYI: Friendz Resort was awarded 2011 best hostel in the Philippines and recommended by Lonely Planet.) They have amazing staff. I was served my free welcome drink upon checking in. Coffee!!!

I did not waste my precious time. I only rested for a few minutes. I quickly change into my favorite board shorts then ate breakfast at one of the restos in DMall. I then strolled around the shore line. Then went for a swim. A bit of sun bathing (this was around 2pm) then I went back to my resort. Slept for about 2 hours then back to the beach. Swam. Watched the magnificent sunset. I now understand why people love this paradise. One of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.

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WHERE TO EAT: (I know most of us loves to eat when traveling)

1. Olé – this is a mexican restaurant around DMall. I can’t remember what I ordered but one thing I still remember, when I left this establishment, I was full and satisfied! I’d definitely visit this place again. Price: Php200-250 servings are good for 2. I eat a lot. 😀

2. I❤Backyard BBQ- Also found in DMall area. Steak and BBQ are best served here. I might sound exaggerating but, yes, their BBQ is so tender. Best BBQ so far. (I was glad to learn that they also have a branch in Makati. Near my office.) Price: very reasonable. Around Php100-175.

3. Friendz Resort- I stayed for 3 days in Boracay and my breakfast for 2 days were courtesy of my resort. Not for free though but the price is reasonable as well. They are served with the brightest smiles by their friendliest crews. I love this place! Price: Php100-175.

If you are on a budget and want something you are familiar with like McDonald’s and Mang-Inasal, worry not! Both establishments have franchise in the island. Or if you want the classic karenderia type, there are few of them near the main road. If you want something classy, go to the finest hotel in the island. There’s a wide variety of cuisine to choose from in Boracay. So, forget about your diet. Deal with it once you get home.

WHERE TO STAY: For solo travelers, this has always been a problem as you shoulder the room rent alone. But lovely that there is Friendz Resort in Boracay.

Dorm-type room for Php500 per night at a walking distance (about 2-3 minutes walk) to the beach is not bad at all. Friendly staff and owner, nicest fellow backpackers, free wi-fi, free use of common area and computer, free use of billiards table. Plus a free mini-concert from local singers-exclusive party hosted by the resort. What more can I ask for? I had a good time in this place.
**Rates vary per season. During peak season, the rate is Php700 per night.

Blooper: When I arrived at the resort, some of the guests who are staying in the resort were playing billiards and some are having their breakfast. Most of them were foreigners. (One more thing I learned in backpacking is to be friendly and approachable.) I was approached by a guy in his mid-40’s and introduced himself. He said he’s from The Netherlands or some European countries, I can’t remember. I introduced myself and was being polite. A little chit-chat and to make myself sound like more welcoming since he is visiting our country, I told him “I hope you enjoy your stay in the Philippines!” Then he said, “Oh, I own this resort. I hope you enjoy your stay here!” That was very awkward. I just smiled but at the back of my head, I was cursing myself already. LOL

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I HAVE BEEN TO PARADISE — CALAGUAS ISLAND

I’m pretty sure every beach-goer in the Philippines has heard of this island. Powdery white sand beach, unspoiled and is comparable to that of Boracay minus the hotels, restaurants and bars. But the beauty of this paradise leaves one breathless and amazed.
The island welcomes its guests by the turquoise water and fine white sand upon arrival. It makes one realize that “the world is meant to be explored and its beauty is to be admired!”

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There’s more to sand, salt and sea in Calaguas.
If you are into hiking, you can witness the sunrise at one of the hills of approximately 200 meters above sea level near the beach. Not only the sunrise and sunset that makes one in awe of its beauty, it also gives you a 360-degree view of the island which let you see the neighboring islands too.

20130422-124940.jpgThe view of sunrise from the mountain top.

20130422-125134.jpg Witnessing sunset by the beach.

Sunset is best experienced by the beach. Just take a moment, sit on the sand while you stare at the sun as it dives into the west until it turns the whole horizon into different colors of pale orange, red and yellow.

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Things To Do In Calaguas
-Bring your goggles: Snorkeling on a crystal clear water is very tempting.
-Don’t forget your sunblock: Swimming on a turquoise water is like no other.
-Condition your muscles: Trekking to the mountains is best in the morning for sunrise viewing.
-Camping: Bring your own tent or rent from the locals. No hotel accommodation in the island.
-Jogging: You can start your day by jogging barefooted by the beach just like what my friend did.
-Photo shoot: The beach as your background will get you more likes on Facebook. Also ideal for group pictures.
-*Frisbee: Just bring your own frisbee then ask your friends to play with you.
-*Beach Volleyball: The net is waiting. Just bring your volleyball and ask other campers to play with you.
-*Skim boarding: Waves are ideal for this sport. Again, bring your own equipment.

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Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? Feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or you may send me an email at victoriousjay1@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter. Please follow me @gladJAYtor. Also on Instagram, @Traveling_GladJAYtor. Enjoy your trip and keep safe!

Top 5 Undiscovered Beaches in Luzon

Beat the heat! Let’s go to the beach!

Are you the type of person who hates crowded, overrated and touristy beaches? Do you want to soak yourself in crystal clear water, enjoy the white sand, witness the sunrise and the beautiful sunset, stargazing or watch dazzling fireflies at night? I bet you want to try all these but your next question would be, how much is the budget? My answer is, that would be the least of your concern.

Let me give you my top 5 undiscovered beaches near the capital city of the Philippines.

1. Burot Beach in Calatagan, Batangas — This has been one of my favorite destinations. I have been to this remote beach in Calatagan. I blogged about it twice and I must share with you that this has been the most viewed entry in my entire blog site.

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With only Php1,500 all-in, you can have an overnight stay in this white sand beach. To learn more about this trip you can read my previous blog about Burot beach.

2. Kwebang Lampas in Pagbilao, Quezon — Another hidden paradise in Quezon. This beach is not so accessible, I tell you. But that’s also the reason why this place remains uncrowded and have preserved its beauty. You have to travel for about 5-6 hours to get here. A few transfers from bus to jeepney to tricycle to boat and a bit of trekking. But don’t lose heart, my fellow traveler. Nature-lovers and adventure-seekers love this place.

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White sand, pristine water, caving, stargazing and fireflies will live up to your expectations. The most stars I’ve ever seen in my entire life, I’ve seen them here. I was also amazed to see some fireflies at night during my last visit here. Oh, the budget: Php1,500 all-in. That’s for an overnight.

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Directions on how to get here? Read my blog about Kwebang Lampas.

3. Sitio Liw-Liwa in San Felipe, Zambales — Going up north, to my most favorite place when it comes to scenery. The country-side view of Zambales has always been what I look forward to. I always sit on the left side window of the bus going north. I always want to see its beauty. Mountains, trees, grass of different shades(it adds drama to the view, I swear!), the sun and everything in between. It always have this cinematic feel. Anyway, Liwliwa is a sitio in San Felipe. If you are not into surfing you would not hear of this place. Not white sand, not as famous as Anawangin Cove but there is something about the place that captured my heart.

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How will I explain this? The place is quite small, very laid back life, with people who just love to smile, a clean beach, a secret haven for surfers who hates crowded sea and quiet place. There is something more about the place. I just don’t know how to elaborate but this has already been my favorite place in Zambales. I feel like I’m a local of this place and I think I can stay in Liwliwa for a long time. I just discovered the place last February and I have been there thrice already. I met some new friends who have been inloved with Liwliwa and made this place their every weekend destination since last year, consistently.

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Now it’s your turn to discover the place and tell me if you love the place too! How to get there? Read my blog about Liwliwa. Budget is Php1,500 for 2 days and 1night.

4. Nagsasa Cove in Pundaquit, Zambales — I told you I love Zambales! Most beautiful places are not easy to reach. They usually include butt-numbing bus rides, scary-boat rides and trekking. But the place relieves all the muscle pain and little heart attacks you get from boat rides. Yes, you have to deal with rough waves. Not to scare you, but I’m just setting your expectations. But again, the view will make you forget that you are still in the Philippines. No exaggeration. From the rock formations, still water of the river, picturesque view and of course the falls it make you stay a little more in this cove.

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Read more about its beauty here.

Budget: Honestly, I did not list down my expenses during my trip to Nagsasa. I was with my friends. I lost track of our expenses. But safe budget would be Php2,000 as the boat rental is kind of pricey plus you have to hire a tour guide if you want to trek to the falls.

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5. Cagbalete Island in Quezon — White sand bars would be it’s trademark! I think the whole stretch of the island is white sand. You can trek, swim, kayak, snorkel or just beach bum on this not-so-commercialzed island of Cagbalete.

Budget: Another trip with my friends which means, I don’t list down my expenses. But I’m pretty sure it was not more than Php3,000.

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Tips: For this kind trip where in you get yourself exposed to the sun don’t forget to bring your sunblocks/sun screen. It is also advisable that you bring a cap/hat, malong, umbrella(if you’re comfortable that way) or anything to give your head a shade and protection from the sun. Also don’t forget to apply mosquito repellant lotion as these places are home to insects that might cause irritation to your very sensitive skin.

My request: Please ALWAYS keep our beaches clean. Do not throw your trash on the beach or just anywhere. Love them as if you own the place. Let other people experience its beauty.

Keep exploring!

Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? Feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or you may send me an email at victoriousjay1@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter. Please follow me @gladJAYtor. Also on Instagram, @Traveling_GladJAYtor. Enjoy your trip and keep safe!

Wondering How Manila Looked Like Back in 1938?

I came across this video on Facebook and really fascinated at how was Manila like back in 1938. I felt educated and proud after seeing this video. You must take time and watch this to get a glimpse of how our capital city looked like back then.

Credits goes to the owner of this video:
travelfilmarchive (Youtube user name)

You may also watch more related videos on Youtube.

Please click on the link to watch the video.

http://youtu.be/dvpbsyNcI3I

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No copyright infringement intended

How To Get To Puting Buhangin/Kwebang Lampas

Social Media Pressure 😀

I have been receiving email/Twitter/Instagram questions on how to get to this place. It is because of my recent picture posts on Instagram which is also linked to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. The pictures were taken last year during my first backpacking adventure.

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Travel Time

Kwebang Lampas is located in Barangay Isla Polo in Pagbilao, Quezon. According to Apple maps, it is about 140KM from Manila and travel time is about 5 to 6 hours if you take the public transportation. I don’t know about getting there by driving a car since I don’t drive. 🙂

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Taking Public Transportation

If you are from Metro Manila, you can ride a bus going to Lucena City. Recommended to take JAC Liner as they have several bus stations and have trips every hour. They have bus stations in Kamias, Quezon City and Buendia-Taft, in Pasay. These stations have trips to Lucena. The trip to Lucena is approximately 4 hours. There are few ways to get to Kwebang Lampas:

1.) Once you arrived at Lucena Grand Central Terminal you can ride a jeepney going to Pagbilao. Then another jeepney to Brgy. Isla Polo. At the terminal in Isla Polo you need to take a tricycle going to the jump off.

2.) Another way of getting to the jump off from Lucena is by taking the mini bus going to Calauag or any buses going to Bicol. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Crossing to Isla Polo. Once you reached the crossing, wait for the jeepneys going to Isla Polo. Or you can hire a tricycle going to the jump off. (Not recommended for first timers as you might get lost).

3.) From Manila you can ride a bus going to Bicol and get off at Pagbilao-Crossing to Isla Polo. I am not sure how much the fare would be and how long is the travel time. I haven’t tried this one. Again, not recommended if you are not familiar with the place yet.

Wait, don’t get too excited! You still need to cross the river by the boat. Then you have the choice to either trek to the beach for about 10-15 minutes. Or cross the sea for about 3-5 minutes.

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Breakdown Of Fares

Php219 – Bus from Kamias to Lucena Grand Central Terminal

1.) Php10- Jeepney from Lucena to Pagbilao
Php40- Jeepney from Pagbilao to Isla Polo (They wait for passengers & may take up to 30 minutes to an hour waiting time)
Php150- Tricycle from Isla Polo to the jump off

2.)Php24- Mini bus from Lucena to Pagbilao crossing
Php300-Tricycle from crossing to jump off

Php20- Roundtrip of boat ride
Php250- Optional boat ride to the beach after crossing the river
Php70- Entrance to the beach
Php100- Overnight stay

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Bring your own food, tent, water, and lamp if you intend to stay for overnight. The care taker have a sari-sari store but expect for a much higher price. They have soft drinks, junk foods and noodles. If you want to take a bath you have to pay for the water for Php50 per container(30liters). They already have comfort rooms. No electricity yet.

Things To Do:

Beach bum
Snorkeling
Caving
A little trekking to the beach
Island hopping
Star gazing (recommended)

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Don’t forget to bring your mosquito repellant and sunscreen/sunblock. Also be extra careful of jellyfish. A friend of mine got stung big time. But other than that, this place is a paradise. White sand and turquoise water. And of course, it won’t be called Kwebang Lampas for nothing! You can swim inside the cave during high tide. Enjoy the beach and take care!

The information on this blog about rates and fees are based on my second visit last June 19-20, 2012.

Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? Feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or you may send me an email at victoriousjay1@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter. Please follow me @gladJAYtor. Also on Instagram, @Traveling_GladJAYtor. Enjoy your trip and keep safe!

Ready For Summer!

My feet are itching! It is summer indeed. I can’t wait for another solo backpacking adventure coming this month. My gears are ready. Itinerary? Who needs it? I don’t. I go spontaneous. No planning. Just pure adventure.

How about you? Are you ready for summer? Share with me your travel plans. We might meet on the road. Keep exploring!

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I’m going back to my first love–Kwebang Lampas, Pagbilao, Quezon

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To celebrate my first year of backpacking next month, I will be going back to the place where I started it. As the famous Filipino saying goes, “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” (It’s english literal translation is **”He, who doesn’t know how to look back where he came from, will never reach his destination.”)

So I am going back to my first love. I am excited!

**Source: Answers.com